The myth: Traffic laws going into effect today in California require that drivers making cellphone calls use hands-free devices. And the fine for several offenses go way up: Get caught illegally using a carpool lane and the ticket will cost you $1,068.50!
The background: A warning about the new laws and fines -- which is getting wide circulation in different versions via e-mail and on websites -- is almost entirely untrue, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles. It's not known how a message so wrongheaded yet exact (fines are listed out to the cents) got started. "It looks like it began with a real estate agent who posted it to his site," said Carol Rohde, a department spokeswoman. "He said he had gotten it from a police officer."